Affordable Fashion Schools in Idaho

Idaho has one school offering up to a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in fashion design. That would be the University of Idaho - a public 4-year institution.

Idaho is a part of WICHE – the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. The 17 WICHE States include

Alaska • Arizona • California • Colorado • Hawaii • Montana • Nevada • New Mexico
North Dakota • Oregon • South Dakota • Utah • Washington • Wyoming
The territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Idaho makes 17 states. 

WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) is a scholarship open to residents of these states. You do have to qualify, but it's an option.

Let’s take a look at the school...

University of Idaho

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The best way to get to know a school, is to talk to someone in the school.

Before we get into the facts and figures, FSS brings you an interview with a University of Idaho instructor you're likely to meet.

 Interview With The Instructor

Lori WahlLori Wahl: Instructor of Apparel, Textile, and Design

Lori Wahl

Experience: 27 Years In The Industry And Counting

  • 17 years with University of Idaho as an instructor and board member.
  • Worked with the likes of Hanna Anderson, Adidas, and Nike. 
  • Co-Owned a childrenswear line and worked as a freelance designer.

Q: You studied at U of I for your fashion degree and now have come back as a teacher. How do you think the industry has changed since then?
A: There’s been a huge change in how we learn about and obtain products. I received my degrees just before the internet in 1993. Most people received their fashion information through magazines, television, movies, and the newspaper. All of a sudden information on every topic suddenly became available at the touch of a finger. Retail started to develop. Soon anyone could set up shop and sell products. This gave a platform for small designers to sell their designs and become discovered by the large retailers.

Q: A real concern a prospective student might have is about questioning the value of a college education at all. We get presented with really scary statistics of people who invested in a degree but still could not get a job in their chosen field. What can students do to make the most out of their time during the degree to make sure they can find work? 
A: To make the most out of your time at any university, you need to know the area of the industry in which you want to work and know what skills are needed. This is not necessarily a specific job such as an Assistant Patternmaker, but an area like Product Development, Design or Merchandising. Armed with that knowledge, you can begin to research jobs in that area and find the skills that not only meet the minimum requirements but also meet the preferred requirements. Then learn those skills and be able to clearly demonstrate them in your portfolio.

Q: What’s the best way for students to prepare themselves for this course, especially coming into it fresh? 
A: We encourage potential students to learn to knit, sew or weave even if this learning is at a basic level. We also encourage students to watch the movie The True Cost. The next generations of apparel industry professionals will have to continue to find solutions to waste, pollution, and excessive purchasing/discarding of textile products in order to reduce our impact on the planet.

Q: In your own experience as a student - and as you may have seen in your students - what apprehensions do students come into the course with that turn out to be the most futile? Things they really don’t have to worry about but do. 
A: Many students worry that they need to know the specific job they want coming into the program, and most choose either design or buying because they are not aware of the vast range of job types out there. It is better to know what you are good at doing, what you are passionate about, and what interests you, rather than trying to define a job type before entering our program. Most students haven’t tried patternmaking or apparel technology development prior to coming here and often discover new interests and passions.

About the School

The University of Idaho has a mid-size campus in a rural setting.

It offers:

The good: 89 % of reviews were positive siting the beautiful school and a great campus

The bad: Complaints about food & meal plans and that the town is small and with nothing to do in it.

Let’s take a look at your budget…

Cost to Attend Fashion Schools in Idaho

Tuition, Housing & Meals, Books, Other

The cost and tuition table below is very clear. There are just a few things to point out

University of Idaho: Cost to AttendUniversity of Idaho: Cost to Attend

Health insurance

To be admitted, one needs proof of insurance. That may be either

SHIP costs 2019 to 2020 Approx. $159/month x 12 = $951 for spring and fall = $1,902

Always remember personal insurance has to meet the standard set by the school, so check if your personal coverage is adequate or covers your school at all.

Final Thoughts on Fashion Schools in Idaho

I liked their website on first impressions but was quickly turned off when I searched for “fashion”.

I was taken to a "request more info" page - a blatant attempt to get my email.

And too soon I might add, before i.e. even have the chance to decide whether or not this school has what I am looking for. 

That was a bit annoying.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the form I had to fill was asking for my race and ethnicity.

Maybe that is normal for statistics sake.

But before I even know whether I want to be at this school?

I felt like that was too much.

Only after I gave information, could I then use the website.


Unfortunately, with this school, I was met with a big lack of information. Apart from basic info, I cannot recommend or not recommend this school or program because I feel like I simply do not have enough information about it.

But I'm still working to track down the information. So, I will update you all as soon as I do.

UPDATE: Whatever I couldn’t find directly on the website, I was able to find out by talking directly with faculty staff and have included in this article.
Since my Interview with Lori Wahl, I think they have a great program at the University of Idaho.
But I still expect more out of their website.
If I hadn’t gone the extra mile to find out about the school and their courses, I may have overlooked them entirely.

Are there opportunities for fashion in Idaho?

Yes, but not quite like you might expect. Which, I think is a good thing.

This article by talks about several Idaho based designers. What I noticed as a common thread was that, design-based businesses in Idaho tend to be

  1. Retail based
  2. Not particularly run by people formally trained in fashion. Their businesses were simply filling a gap in the local market. So, if you are interested in building a fashion career in Idaho, that might be the tried and tested approach to use.
  3. Take advantage of E-commerce. Idaho may not be a fashion capital by any means, but if people like what you are selling, they will buy. As has been the case for multi-million-dollar online store Cheekys.

Cost of Living in Idaho

Accommodation is on the lower end of the spectrum at under $1,700 per month for a 3 bedroom apartment in the city centre.

Screen shots below...

Cost Of Living In Idaho: Accomodation and RentCost Of Living In Idaho: Accomodation and Rent

On the food front, Idaho seems to be a “cold beer and steaks” kind of affair.

I was a little concerned as a vegan. But I'm happy to report that yes there are several vegan and vegan option eateries in Idaho and Boise.

Apart from that here are your basic food prices…

Cost of Living in Idaho: Restaurants and MarketsCost of Living in Idaho: Restaurants and Markets

There is public transport, but it’s probably more convenient to have a car.

Screen shots below...

Cost of Living in Idaho: Transport and UtilitiesCost of Living in Idaho: Transport and Utilities

That’s it for this fashion school review. Hope it helps!

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